Walking through Schrock Plaza this week, one won't be able to ignore the T-shirts and bandanas strung across the square. The Clothesline Project, which began at Goshen College in 2004, is a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Week and is hosted by the Goshen Student Women’s Association (GSWA).
Past members of the Goshen community wrote on and/or decorated T-shirts which are then hung on clotheslines surrounding Schrock Plaza each year. The T-shirts are filled with the stories, emotions and responses of those who have been affected by sexual assault.
This year, for the first time, GSWA collaborated with the Prevention Intervention Network (PIN) in planning the events of Sexual Assault Awareness Week. As a part of their collaboration, they decided to have this week occur in March/April instead of September, as it has been in the past. This way, it occurs during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is in April.
In addition to this change, PIN introduced Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez to GSWA as a presenter for the week. Nicoletti-Martinez is a social worker and also the director of the program MESA, which stands for Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault. On Tuesday night, Nicoletti-Martinez gave a presentation titled “Inviting Everyone to the Table in Sexual Violence Prevention Work.”
During this presentation, Nicoletti-Martinez shared about the Bandana Project, a national campaign that started in 2007 that uses bandanas as a symbol of solidarity to end sexual violence among female farmworkers, as these women often use bandanas to cover themselves in their workplaces for protection from sexual harassment.
GSWA, after connecting with Nicoletti-Martinez, combined the Clothesline Project with the Bandana Project to extend awareness that many and all populations experience sexual assault. On Tuesday night after Nicoletti-Martinez’s presentation, students and faculty gathered in the lobby of Umble to draw and write on bandanas before hanging them up.
According to Genevieve Cowardin, a sophomore and one of the leaders of GSWA, the Clothesline and Bandana Project this year is meant to be a space for expression where individuals can safely share stories and experiences.
“It can be whatever this community wants it to be,” said Cowardin. “Creating a space where art and symbols can lead us to make systemic change” is the main goal of this project.
The rest of the Sexual Assault Awareness Week events are as follows:
Thursday, March 28th at 12:30 p.m. in AD 20: “Taking Off the Blindfold” workshop with Burton Patterson
Saturday, March 29th at 4 p.m. in NC 19: Self Care workshop with Regina Shands Stoltzfus
Sunday, March 31st at 7 p.m. in Umble: Goshen Monologues
Tuesday, April 2nd at 12 p.m. in Westlawn Conference Room: Prism and Advocates lunch
Wednesday, April 3rd at 6 p.m. in NC 17: Escalation movie and discussion
Friday, April 5th at 8:30 p.m. in Schrock Plaza: Take Back the Night
The Clothesline Project will be taken down as part of the Take Back the Night Event.